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Blogs / Knowledge Network Community Blog / Successful GIS programs are not created overnight

Successful GIS programs are not created overnight

The technology called Geographic Information System or GIS is now rapidly gaining popularity among the people who work for the local government. The consequence is that everyone seems to want to become GIS experts. Another outcome is that the local managers realize they want to establish their own GIS laboratory.


My month-long internship at the City of Auburn helped me understand the complexities of pulling this off. As it seems, implementing a centralized GIS program takes years to reach maturity and stability.

gis docs

These documents detail how different US cities implemented centralized GIS programs.



It turns out also that making everyone GIS specialists should not be ultimate goal. The hard-learned lesson for the City of Auburn is that there is inefficiency and impracticality when you try to make experts out of your GIS users.


The main goal should be to establish a system that gets rid of redundancy in the creation of GIS data and do away with the unnecessary duplication of entries in the repositories.


And ultimately, there needs to be a setup where data gets to be shared and consumed by all stakeholders.


Producing the data is one thing; but it pays to make sure that the people who produce the data are experts in that particular field. This is why the task of creating certain GIS data must be entrusted to professionals who understand the science behind that data better than GIS professionals do. For instance, a water quality expert knows exactly the kinds of information that he needs to collect and maintain, on top of just knowing where the data are collected and merely plotting the points on a map.


That being said, a producer of GIS data does not have to be "forced" to be a GIS expert esp. if she has more important things to do other than mastering the deeper nuances of GIS.


While everyone can be GIS literate, not everyone should be specialists in GIS. A GIS specialist's role is then to package the data into forms that are accessible and understandable to a wide range of users, more especially to the public, through a variety of platforms, e.g. static maps, web apps, and interactive online maps.

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